PUEBLO, Colo. – Where, oh where, to start?
This weekend’s 15/15 Bucking Battle at the WinStar World Casino & Resort Invitational in Thackerville, Oklahoma, will feature nine grudge matches between some of the top bull riders and bovine athletes in the world.
Out of the 15 matchups set for Saturday night, nine will be rematches, and all will play a role in the ongoing 2017 World Championship race.
15/15 Bucking Battle Matchups
Shane Proctor vs. Bad Beagle (11-1, BFTS)*
Rubens Barbosa vs. Cut The Cord (17-1, BFTS)
Ryan Dirteater vs. Seven Dust (28-2, BFTS)
Cody Nance vs. Rodeo Time (19-1, BFTS)
Joao Ricardo Vieira vs. South Texas Gangster (1-0, BFTS)
Stormy Wing vs. Mystikal (12-1, BFTS)*
Cody Teel vs. SweetPro’s Bruiser (31-8, BFTS)*
Matt Triplett vs. Uncle Tink (22-5, BFTS)
Fabiano Vieira vs. Magic Train (35-4, BFTS)*
Cooper Davis vs. TLW’s Big Cat (25-1. BFTS)*
Claudio Montanha Jr. vs. Cochise (25-5, BFTS)
Derek Kolbaba vs. Stone Sober (47-3, BFTS)*
Jess Lockwood vs. Wired Child (20-5, BFTS)*
Eduardo Aparecido vs. Honey Hush (22-3, BFTS)*$
Kaique Pacheco vs. Jack Shot (18-3, BFTS)*$
$ Rider has successfully previously ridden the bull
Fans can watch the 15/15 Bucking Battle exclusively on CBS national television Sunday at 5 p.m. ET.
With so many rematches taking place, let’s first take a look at world No. 1 Kaique Pacheco.
The 22-year-old is back on top of the world standings for the first time since the last day of the 2016 season, and he will have a chance to add to his lead against a familiar foe.
Out of the nine rematches, Pacheco has had the most success.
Pacheco has drawn Jack Shot for a third time after previously covering the bull two times this season. The 2015 Rookie of the Year first rode Jack Shot for 91 points at the Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour event in Denver before covering the bull most recently in Billings, Montana, for 86 points.
Meanwhile, Eduardo Aparecido heads into Thackerville only 360 points behind Pacheco in the world standings and will take on Honey Hush.
Aparecido and Pacheco are the only two riders out of the nine rematches that have won their previous matchups.
It has been almost four years since Aparecido became the first rider to reach 8 seconds on Honey Hush.
Aparecido was a rookie when he rode Honey Hush for 87.25 points at the 2013 Kansas City Invitational.
At the time, Honey Hush was only bucking for the second time at the BFTS level. Honey Hush has since gone 24-2 at the BFTS level.
“He’s a very difficult bull,” Aparecido said Monday via text message. “I only have met him once and I managed to get the best out of myself to win. He is a bull that shows a lot of strength and runs both left and right. With the force of God, I will beat him again.”
Aparecido had been the No. 1 bull rider in the world standings for six months before Pacheco usurped him in Nashville.
“I was just at home (in Texas) with my family this week, preparing,” Aparecido said of his weekend off last week.
Out of the other seven rematches, No. 3 Jess Lockwood lasted the longest.
Lockwood was bucked off by Wired Child in 6.3 seconds in Oklahoma City.
Shane Proctor was bucked off by Bad Beagle in 5.41 seconds, but outside of him and Lockwood, the other five riders – Cody Teel (2.69), Cooper Davis (2.59, but was awarded a re-ride), Derek Kolbaba (1.97), Fabiano Vieira (1.94) and Stormy Wing (2.55) – have all lasted 2.69 seconds or less.
Davis was bucked off by Big Cat, but he was awarded a re-ride in Tulsa, Oklahoma, earlier this month.
Bruiser is set to make his second-half debut and is currently No. 2 in the World Champion Bull race. The reigning World Champion Bull can gain ground on Pearl Harbor with a bull score of 45.5 points or higher in Thackerville.
Mason Lowe was originally slated to have a rematch against Seven Dust, but he has been replaced by Ryan Dirteater.
The No. 14 rider in the world standings has dealt with elbow issues in the past and injured his riding arm in Nashville, Tennessee.
“My elbow keeps locking up on me,” Lowe said. “I’m going to try a brace in Springfield.”
Outlaw, currently fifth in the world standings, was supposed to face off against Cochise before having to opt out of Thackerville on Wednesday because of a shoulder injury (collarbone) he sustained during his Touring Pro Division victory in West Monroe, Louisiana, last weekend.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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